tags: Press Releases

Ahead of El Paso Anniversary, Rep. Joaquin Castro and National Leaders Denounce Continued Use of Dangerous White Nationalist Rhetoric

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New sign-on letter from more than 160 organizations calls on congressional leadership “to unequivocally denounce white supremacist, anti-immigrant rhetoric and its use by Members of Congress” Read the new letter HERE

Access an audio recording of today’s press call HERE

Washington, DC On a press call held this afternoon, U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) joined leaders from the Anti-Defamation League, National Urban League, Southern Poverty Law Center, UnidosUS and America’s Voice Education Fund in advance of the fourth anniversary of the anti-immigrant terrorist attack in El Paso, TX that killed 23 people on August 3, 2019 at a local Walmart. 

The organizations on the call were among the more than 160 national and state organizations who signed onto a new letter released today that calls on congressional leadership to “unequivocally denounce white supremacist, anti-immigrant rhetoric and its use by Members of Congress, and encourage Members of your caucuses to refrain from using this dangerous rhetoric.” Despite repeated acts of hate and violence inspired by conspiratorial rhetoric, some Members of Congress continue to invoke the antisemitic and anti-immigrant conspiracy theories that inspired violence in El Paso and elsewhere. Members have referred to migrants and asylum seekers as “invaders” or as an “invasion” at least 90 times in their official capacity in hearings, on the floor, or in official press releases in just this 118th Congress alone. 

On the call, Marilyn Mayo, Senior Research Fellow for the Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League said: “It is important for all of us to combat these kinds of views, hate and extremism so that this country can be what it’s meant to be a multicultural, pluralistic democracy that welcomes diversity and defends against those who use violence to justify their hate toward those who they believe are different from them.

Marc Morial, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban League stated: “People can disagree about important policies in Washington. We expect that. But when politicians are using talking points that at times are indistinguishable from those of the white supremacist movement that marched in the streets of Charlottesville or at these and other mass murders, then we have a big problem in America and that is why the National Urban League was proud to sign onto this letter to leaders in both parties in the House and Senate.”

Caleb Kieffer, Senior Research Analyst, The Intelligence Project, Southern Poverty Law Center said:Troublingly, xenophobic conspiracy theories of a so-called migrant ‘invasion’ happening at the southern border have moved from the fringe to the mainstream. No longer only associated with hate and extremist groups, ‘invasion’ rhetoric, which bears similarities to the racist ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory, is now being amplified by elected officials and other political figures … we must call on our leaders to denounce hate and extremism and avoid actively using harmful, inflammatory language to promote a partisan agenda.”

Clarissa Martinez de Castro, Vice President, UnidosUS said: “Our elected officials are entrusted with safeguarding the nation and its people. While we may have policy disagreements on how exactly to do that, there should be no uncertainty about condemning rhetoric that unleashes violence against members of our American community. Tacitly or actively spreading white supremacist rhetoric is not just disgraceful; it is lethal. As we remember the lives lost in El Paso, and the many others who have been targeted as a result of this rhetoric, we applaud Congressional members who have raised their voices to denounce this rhetoric, and urge leaders in both houses to have all their members heed this call.”

Elizabeth Yates, Senior Researcher on Antisemitism and Extremism at Human Rights First, stated: “The language of ‘invasion’ and ‘replacement’ dehumanizes and criminalizes migrants, justifying terrorist attacks like the devastating events in El Paso, as well inhumane practices like ordering children to be pushed into a river. We stand with our fellow advocates for human and civil rights, and demand that members of Congress stop perpetuating these extremist conspiracy theories that target migrants, asylum seekers, and all our communities.”

Vanessa Cardenas, Executive Director, America’s Voice Education Fund, who served as the call moderator, noted: “I am proud that 162 organizations – civil rights groups, faith groups, LGBT groups, gun-violence prevention groups, and immigrant rights groups and others have come together to ask the leaders in both houses in both parties McConnell, Schumer, McCarthy and Jeffries to show leadership and communicate to their Members that white nationalist rhetoric is unacceptable, dangerous, and has no place in the 118th Congress. The research and evidence is crystal clear: when elected officials amplify dangerous rhetoric like the white nationalist ‘invasion’ and ‘replacement’ conspiracy theories, they create a climate that fosters political violence.  Enough is enough. We are calling on leaders in both parties to lead by example and make stopping this rhetoric a priority.“